LUBBOCK, Texas — Lubbock ISD and the State of Texas filed a motion Tuesday to temporarily stop a Biden Administration mask and vaccine mandate in Head Start programs from going into effect. The motion was part of an ongoing lawsuit against the administration.
According to court documents, due to a Biden Administration mandate signed November 30, all Head Start staff, contractors and volunteers were required to start wearing masks while working starting immediately and were required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 31, 2022.
Head Start is a federal grant program to promote school readiness for young children from low-income families.
Both Texas and LISD said in court documents the mandate would force programs to choose between ignoring the mandate – and thus risk losing federal funding – or enforcing the mandate and losing staff who do not want to comply.
LISD said in part, “The Vaccine Mandate and Mask Mandate will cause irreparable harm by requiring Head Start programs to terminate staff, contractors, and volunteers who fail to submit, by forcing some Head Start programs to shut down or cut back for lack of staff, and to expel children whose families fail to submit.”
In a court document filed in support of the lawsuit, Lubbock ISD Superintendent Kathy Rollo said there are over 1,200 children in LISD Pre-K programs and over 550 of those qualified for federal Head Start funding.
Rollo said 71.96% of LISD students were living in poverty as defined by the State of Texas.
Additionally, she said many parents stated they do not want their children to wear masks.
“lf LISD were to comply with the mask requirement, we could potentially lose many of the students who are currently enrolled in the program, disrupting the progress that has been made,” Rollo said.
The motion, if granted, would temporarily stop the mandate from going into effect while the lawsuit plays out in court.
Lubbock ISD released a statement and said on December 10, the Lubbock ISD Board of Trustees approved a resolution to request assistance from the Texas Attorney General in order to sue the federal government.
“The Lubbock ISD Board of Trustees approved a resolution on December 9, 2021 requesting assistance from the Texas Attorney General to file suit against the federal government. The purpose is to seek an injunction against enforcement of the federal government’s mask and vaccine mandates as they relate to the Head Start program.
The legal documents include the full details and purpose of the request, and Lubbock ISD will not provide further comment on the pending litigation.”LISD Statement
As of Wednesday afternoon, the court had not yet ruled on whether to grant the motion.